From the Editor:
The Bishops of Korea made a collective retreat for the Great Jubilee at the Hanmaum Education and Retreat Center in a suburb of Seoul from November 29th to December 3rd as they had decided at their 1999 Autumn General Assembly. The silent retreat was a fruitful time of self-reflection and prayer for a reformation of the Church in Korea for the new millennium. The Bishops reconfirmed their identity as pastors through meditation on the Bible and Church documents, especially, the Second Vatican Council's document, Decree on the Bishops’ Pastoral Office in the Church (Christus Dominus).
The Bishops elaborated during their retreat a pastoral message entitled ?or the Great Jubilee of Grace and Joy” inviting all Korean Catholics to welcome the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 with a renewed spirit and heart and to celebrate it in a meaningful way.
First of all, the Bishops wished all brothers and sisters in faith and those who yearn for salvation to enjoy the genuine freedom and peace of the Great Jubilee. They gave thanks to God for abundant blessings granted to the Church in Korea by remembering the canonization of 103 martyrs of Korea by Pope John Paul II in Seoul, 1984 and the 44th World Eucharistic Congress of Seoul in 1989. At the same time they recognized that the Church in Korea, despite of its remarkable progress and growth, did not do enough to be a living sign of the Kingdom of God in Korean society.
The message invites lay people, religious and clergy to make a community of love in the mutual respect and collaboration so that the Church becomes a living sign of the communion with the Trinity. The Bishops placed special emphasis on solidarity and principle of subsidiarily of Christians in order to face challenges of the new millennium such as family crisis, growing conflict between generations, people, religions, countries and the side effects of competition of the market economy of capitalism. The Bishops called on Catholics to embrace North Koreans as brothers and sisters and to support them by all means by discarding hostility and hatred from their hearts. The Bishops expressed concerns for environment, children, youth and inculturation, focusing on the responsibility of the Church in Korean society and the evangelization of the Asian continent in the new millennium of Christianity.
Fr. John Kim Jong-su
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea
1999 Autumn CBCK General Assembly Held
1999 Autumn General Assembly of the CBCK Held
The 1999 Autumn General Assembly of the CBCK held from October 11th to 15th treated important subjects of the Church in Korea for the new millennium and elected a new president and officers. Important approvals given during the Assembly are: The Program for Priestly Formation in Korea drafted by the Episcopal Commission for Clergy and Religious in collaboration with professors of the major seminaries in Korea and the Catechism for Catechumens prepared by the Committee for Catechesis. Also in a common understanding of the importance of ongoing formation of priests the Bishops decided to establish an institute for it and to develop programs in collaboration with member Bishops of the Episcopal Commission for Clergy and Religious. The Bishops agreed to issue a message for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and to make a collective retreat from November 29th to December 3rd to prepare themselves for the coming of the Great Jubilee and the third millennium of Christianity in a common understanding that the Bishops should be converted before anyone else and reborn in the Holy Spirit. The last episcopal conference of the CBCK in the 20th century was ended with election of new officers.
Most Rev. Michael Pak, Bishop of Masan, was elected as the new president of the CBCK with Archbishop Andrew Choi, vice president, and Most Rev. Augustine Cheong, secretary, Most Rev. Peter Kang and Most Rev. John Chang, members of the permanent council. Rev. John Kim Jong-su was reappointed as the secretary general of the CBCK. Most of the presidents of episcopal committees were changed. Archbishop Andrew Choi was appointed as the delegate for the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops and Most Rev. Ignatius Pak as the alternative delegate.
Most Rev.Lee Ki-heon, Second Military Ordinary of Korea
Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon, Second Military Ordinary of Korea
On November 6th, Pope John Paul II nominated Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Seoul, as Military Ordinary for Korea. The ordination Mass was concelebrated at the Myongdong cathedral on December 14, presided by H.E. Stephen Cardinal Kim with Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, the Apostolic Nuncio, Most Rev. Michael Pak, President of the CBCK and all member bishops of the CBCK. A congregation of about 2000 attended the ceremony. The new Bishop was installed as the second Military Ordinary on December 15th, 1999.
Profile of Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon
1947: Born in Pyongyang, now North Korea
1973: Graduated from Catholic University of Seoul
1975: Ordained to the priesthood
1975: Assistant pastor of the Chonhodong parish in Seoul
1977: Assistant pastor of the Myongdong Cathedral in Seoul
1978: Commissioned officer and military chaplain
1982: Pastor of the Chamwondong parish in Seoul
1990: Pastor of Korean Catholic Community in Tokyo, Japan
1995: Director of Education Department of the Archdiocese of Seoul
1998: Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Seoul
1999: December 14: Ordained as bishop
1999: December 15: Installed as the second Military Ordinary
The military ordinariate in Korea was established by Pope John Paul II in October 1989 and Most Rev. Augustine Cheong, the present Bishop of Pusan, was appointed as its first ordinary. The military ordinariate has 81,012 catholics, 76 chaplains, 74 parishes and 173 secondary missions as of the end of 1998. The Military Sunday is celebrated in Korea since 1968.
"Sing to the Lord a New Song” (Ps, 149) is the pastoral symbol of Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heon.
"I firmly believe that God is with me always. Trusting in Him and in collaboration with chaplains I will try to take the lead in proclamation of the Gospel to military personnel, and also in prayer, love and simple life. I want to be a friend and a father for the chaplains who may easily be exposed to discouragement in their poor pastoral environment. I will try to help their spiritual life by development of a small community life,” the new Military Ordinary said. ?or Catholic soldiers I want to help them to contribute to peace and reconciliation of Korean people in a way adapted to the military environment. For instance the rosaries for peace and reconciliation of South and North Korea can be a good way to nourish their love and concern for the country,” he said.
His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim, in his words of encouragement, said to the new bishop, Peter Lee Ki-heon ?hrist continues to proclaim the Gospel through the service of the bishop and celebrate the mystery of the faith,” and asked him to share concerns of the Church and help it by keeping in mind that he became a member of the episcopal college in the Church linked to the chain of love.
God Alone is the Master of Life
"God Alone is the Master of Life”
Most Rev. Ignatius Pak, president of the committee for justice and peace, announced in his message on the 18th human rights Sunday, December 5th, that the committee decided to carry out a national campaign to abolish the death penalty in the spirit of the Great Jubilee. The campaign will continue to July 9th, 2000, the Great Jubilee for Prisoners, in solidarity with national and international human rights organizations.
Meanwhile, the committee for Social Correction Apostolate of Seoul Archdiocese presented a petition to President Kim Dae-jung and the National Assembly asking them to abolish the death penalty from the criminal code of the nation. On December 6th, more than 90 lawmakers signed a special bill for abolition of the death penalty. The special bill provides that the maximum penalty of capital punishment be replaced by a life sentence for humanitarian reasons by insisting that the death penalty is the cruelest punishment and violates the right to life, the foundation of human dignity and humanistic values.
1. The human being created in the image of God(Gn 1,26-27) is the most precious being in the world. Therefore, nobody has a right to take human life but God. Yet many states and authorities still violate human rights by maintaining the death penalty system.
2. Until the 18th century, capital punishment was the extreme and heaviest penalty. From the first half of the 19th century, criminal legislation began to be influential and allowed the capital punishment for exceptional cases only. The 19th century opened an era of restricted capital punishment while the second half of the 20th century moved towards its abolition. As of 1997, as many as 98 countries have abolished the capital punishment legally or de facto.
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights confirmed the right to life and the UN International Covenant on Human Rights stipulated that even countries maintaining capital punishment should apply it to heinous criminals only. It reconfirmed that each human being has a God-given right to life and nobody can take it away. The Agreement strongly advocated a complete abolition of the death penalty and declared that any measure toward the abolition of capital punishment can be considered as human progress. From the 1980s, the United Nations and Amnesty International have made particular efforts to curtail or abolish the death penalty. At the UN General Assembly in 1989 the abolition of death penalty was included in the Elaboration of a second optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
3. The Catholic position for abolition of capital punishment is crystal clear. Pope John Paul II pointed out in his encyclical letter, Evangelium vitae, that ?here is evidence of a growing public opposition to the death penalty, even when such a penalty is seen as a kind of ?egitimate defense’ on the part of society (Evangelium vitae, 27)” and insisted that ?e should not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity ( Ibid, 56).” The content of the apostolic letter is quoted entirely in the ?atechism of the Catholic Church’ (No. 2267), the standard catechism of the world completed in 1997, so that all the faithful understand its spirit and follow it. And in the 30th World Day of Peace(No. 5) of the same year, the Holy Father said that ?o punishment can suppress the inalienable dignity of those who have committed evil. The door to repentance and rehabilitation must always remain open.”
4. The Catholic Church has petitioned to the United Nations to stop executions even if it is during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 only. Finally the UN General Assembly 1999 adopted a resolution calling for the abolition of the death penalty. The Apostolic See insisted again in the statement by Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino, Permanent Observer for the Holy See to the UN on November 2nd, 1999, that the right to life is the inalienable right of every human person and added that punishment should be fair and proportionate to the crime, but it should be directed towards restoring the criminal as a member of society, wherever possible. At the dawn of a new millennium, humanity should become more humane and less cruel.
5. The world is moving toward the abolition of the death penalty. However, parts of Asia and certain regions of the United States oppose it. There is a country that has executed as many as 4,367 capital offenders in 1996 alone applying as many as 68 kinds of crimes against them. People were executed even for crimes like gambling, evasion of taxes, bigamy, robbery, publication of forged receipt, tiger poacher and trivial thefts that can be controlled by punishment other than the death penalty. Using extreme means for such crimes is a clear violation of human rights.
In the case of the United States, there were 486 cases of capital sentence from 1976 to 1998 and 1 of 7 was proved innocent(cf. US News and World Report, Nov. 15, 1998). In the case of the State of Illinois as many as 9 of 20 capital sentences were proved innocent later on. The victims of wrong judgements are minority groups in general and many instances show how terrible capital sentence and execution by wrong judgement are.
Also, there is little proof or documentation proving that the death penalty is a more effective way to prevent crimes than is the life sentence. In the case of the United States, the states that abolished the death penalty have shown lower record of murder cases than those states that maintain the system.
The position claiming that the death penalty removes a source of social evil for good is illogical because a crime that was a ?ource of social evil’ at the moment it was committed can be considered differently later on. People have witnessed that many criminals died in contrition on the guillotine.
6. In Korea, five death sentences were commuted to the life imprisonment for National Liberation Day? special amnesty on August 15th, 1999. However Korea is one of some 90 countries that maintain capital punishment system. The death penalty is an act that ignores the sacredness of human life. We have to understand that the death penalty is the cruelest punishment that violates the right to life, the foundation of human dignity and humanistic values. We have to help criminals with tolerance and forgiveness, love and realization of justice so that they can find a right way of life in sincere repentance. At this important moment as we open the new millennium we have to promote the culture of life by destroying many systems against human life by a radical change of thinking. On the occasion of the last Human Rights Sunday of the 20th century, the Committee for Justice and Peace of the CBCK appeals to the Korean people and government for a complete abolition of the death penalty.
December 5th, 1999
Human Rights Sunday
+ Ignatius Pak
Committee for Justice and Peace of the CBCK
Seminar Held for Formators of Seminaries in Asia
Formators of Asian seminaries met at the Hanmaum Education and Retreat Center in Seoul, Korea, October 24-31, 1999 to examine the pastoral concerns for the priestly formation. Particular emphasis was on the formation for priesthood in the ecclesiastical seminaries of Asia. The participants were rectors and spiritual directors from seminaries in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The seminar had as its theme: ?ccompanying Priests on their Journey to the Father.”
The meeting had four broad objectives: to bring to the participants the orientation and direction from the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Asia; to deepen awareness of the situation pertaining in Asia today regarding the formation of the clergy; to share experiences helpful for formators in their accompaniment of seminarians; to identify formational skills for a healthy celibate and spiritual life as part of the sacerdotal vocation and mission.
From their collective experience the participants held many broad discussions and accepted proposals for a better priestly formation. As a recognition of what seems to be needed and wanted, one recommendation was made that ?he Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples should establish in Rome an institute for Asian seminary formators. This institute would also be helpful to formators from other mission countries.”
His Eminence Paul Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi from Taiwan said in his keynote address that a simple life is absolutely vital for priests and seminarians because it is an eloquent witness of Gospel values in a society of materialism and consumerism, and they must be prepared for ministry with the poor, because the majority of Asians live in poverty. Referring to Jesus’ Asian origin, the Cardinal pointed out the importance of inculturation in seminary education. ?esus, born in Asia, was presented to Asian people as an European. We have to give him back his Asian face and present him to Asian people as an Asian in Asian ways and thoughts,” he insisted.
His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim, Archbishop Emeritus of Seoul, spoke on priestly life and formation. In treating poverty, chastity and obedience, he reminded that these were not just monastic or church obligations, but basic gospel values, something demanded by the very nature of life as a disciple of Christ. He noted that we cannot impose these as matters of Church Law these days for this no longer works in modern society. Rather we must make seminarians see these as linked and as flowing from a deep and abiding love for Christ. Following is an excerpt from his address.
The Requirements of the Present Situation in Asia Concerning Priestly Life and Formation; Evangelical Poverty, Celibate Life, Obedience
I. State of Formation Programmes
In all the seminaries, importance is placed on the three evangelical virtues in the formation of priests, and in-depth education is being provided, from the very first year in the seminary until ordination, through spiritual lectures, instructions on the spiritual life, personal spiritual direction and retreats. In some seminaries, through the 30-day Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, which are obligatory either before or after the reception of the Diaconate, the opportunity is provided for further emphasis on those three virtues.
A factor which impinges greatly on priestly formation is the military service for 26 months which is compulsory for males in Korea. The majority of the seminarians are enlisted in the Armed Forces and others, who are exempt for various reasons, are given a moratorium for two years, during which they are obliged to involve themselves in community service. This has proved to be an excellent opportunity for the students to more deeply discover the meaning of the priestly vocation. Accordingly, this period is regarded as an important testing ground for the practice of the three evangelical virtues. On the whole, while there has not yet been in-depth research and evaluation of the programme, the response and effects would seem to be positive.
However, as far as I am concerned, the most important task facing us in this seminar is to share opinions and ideas on how the virtues of poverty, chastity (celibacy) and obedience can be most effectively taught to seminarians. With that purpose in mind, I would like to share my own thoughts on the matter.
II. Poverty, Chastity and Obedience in the Christian Community
In the history and tradition of the Church, poverty, chastity and obedience were regarded as the three evangelical virtues which were peculiar to or characteristic of those who lived the religious life. As a seminarian, I learned that obedience and celibacy for diocesan priests were demanded by Church Law but that there was no comparable obligation as regards poverty. I think that it must be said that such a concept still exists in the minds of diocesan priests even today, and I am firmly convinced that such an attitude towards the three evangelical virtues must be changed. Fortunately, the Second Vatican Council did much to change such a manner of thinking.
It has to be emphasized that the evangelical virtues must be seen as the virtues by which the Christian Community of the Church, as the spouse of Christ, must live. Accordingly, the very nature of life as a disciple of Christ demands the observance of these virtues. This means that the priest, who along with Christ actually dedicates himself for the salvation of everyone in the world, must live a life of poverty, chastity and obedience which, in imitation of Christ? life, demands that he offer himself completely in love. Within the call to discipleship which the priest has received is the demand for complete commitment along with complete obedience and a simple life.
The three evangelical virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience concretely express the nature of the demand. Because of that, the priest, not simply because of the requirements of Church Law, must live his life in observance of these virtues in order to follow Christ, in order to become like Christ, in order to become one with Christ and to be more free to love all the brethren in the spirit of Christ - not being tied down to any particular person - and to be of service to all. People today, especially youth, expect to see the witness to this complete dedication to love in the life of the Church and in the lives of priests.
III. The Three Evangelical Virtues are Combined in and Expressed as One Virtue
While each of the virtues of poverty, chastity and obedience is distinct from the others, they are not differentiated from one another. They are intimately intertwined with one another. They are intrinsically related to the extent that, if one collapses, the others must necessarily collapse. Saint Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, verses 6 to 8, wrote, ?hough being divine in nature, he did not claim in fact equality with God, but emptied himself, taking on the nature of a servant, made in human likeness, and in his appearance found as a man. He humbled himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross.” In these words, namely, in the kenosis or emptying of Christ, we can find the very essence of poverty, chastity and obedience. The priest must display the transparency of Christ who lived his human life in identification with the poor, in pureness of heart and in complete abandonment to the will of his Father.
Just as the real Sacrament of Matrimony is the married life of the couple and their children, so is the Sacrament of Holy Orders the committed life of the priest. The priest is ?he embodied reality of the Sacrament? His life is sacramental, his being is sacramental. Like Christ, he embodies the Kingdom which he is supposed to celebrate, preach and communicate. There is an element in this Sacrament that should act as an agent for the ongoing transformation of the priest. Thus, the priesthood demands a radical commitment to the Gospel in all its forms - poverty, chastity and obedience - by which the priest is called to become the visible, real and inspiring symbol of the general priesthood of Christians which is found in the life of the faithful. It contains the mystery of sacramental existence, of embodying the Gospel, of becoming not only the administrators of Sacraments but the sacrament itself which is in the very being of the priest. There is a need to integrate this dimension in the training of seminarians and in the renewal programmes of priests. It must also be stressed that the priest is not simply a professional person with special skills but that he is called to be a man of intimate union with God and with Christ, and a man of communion, respectful of and close to this people, his fellow priests and his bishops.
IV. The Image of the Priest
One seminary rector, in reply to my inquiry, shared the following information. The results of a Gallup poll which is conducted in Korea almost every year show that, in most recent years, the Catholic priest ranked number one among those surveyed on the question, ?o what profession does the person you most trust belong?’ While there may be many reasons for that majority choice, it is presumed that, because the priest does not marry and lives a celibate life, he is regarded as not being constrained by selfish motives in living a life of service of those who need his help. Moreover, his spirit of obedience to Church authority and his commitment to a simple lifestyle are seen as based not on earthly principles but on a total giving of self which transcends all desires for personal gain and fame.
In the traditional Korean values system - in Confucianism, importance is placed on marriage and, in Buddhism, emphasis is put on the celibacy of monks - chastity is not seen as a value outside of the context of religion.
In today's secular society, it must be clearly recognized that the influence of materialism is very strong. Health, money and pleasure are almost universally regarded as the whole of man? happiness. Along with this attitude, sexual permissiveness and hedonism are luring the hearts and minds of young people. Because of that, celibacy or chastity - especially in the case of men - is seen as nearly impossible. In spite of that, people still regard Catholic priests and nuns as the most trustworthy because they display a truthfulness of life through their celibacy.
No matter how we envisage the future world - even though it may be seen as a world in which chastity and poverty are devalued and considered as impossible - it can be stated with certainty that these virtues will always be regarded as holding a very important place in the depths of the human heart. Even though some cultures do not esteem celibacy, there is uniqueness in the way it is understood and lived out in the Catholic priesthood. It must be emphasized that celibacy is a special gift of God offered only to some, yet intended not only for the individual himself but also for the Church.
Finally, I would like to share my own confidence that, in imitation of Christ the High Priest, the priest, through living the evangelical virtues, can truly become a witness to Christ and will be able to more powerfully and effectively spread the Good News of the Son of God who revealed to us the true meaning of human and eternal life through his incarnation, passion, death and resurrection.
News from the Church in Korea
* Archdiocese of Taegu Concludes Diocesan Synod
The Archdiocese of Taegu concluded its diocesan synod on October 10th at St. Kim Tae-gon? Memorial Hall with closing Mass concelebrated by Archbishop Paul Ri, H.E. Cardinal Stephen Kim and Most Rev. Giovanni Battista Morandini, the Apostolic Nuncio. The synod opened on November 30th, 1997 had three general assemblies during which 35 propositions were voted and 4 resolutions were adopted. Archbishop Paul Ri issued 26-page long pastoral letter based on the outcome of the 7 committees of the clergy, religious, youth education, catechumens, parish, social welfare and the family by focusing on renewal of the archdiocese by focusing on the renewal of the archdiocese.
"As we march towards love in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council the synod leads our steps for life. Hand in hand we will advance in this journey,” the Archbishop said to 3000 participants at the ceremony. Most Rev. G.B. Morandini, the Apostolic Nuncio, congratulated for all what the synod has achieved and encouraged them to strive with pride for continual renewal of the Church. ?ou are chosen to witness to a faith life so as to respond to God? plan and expectation of the Church,” he said.
* Bishops of Korea and Japan Strengthen Missionary Collaboration
Bishops of Korea and Japan agreed on 5 points for further cooperation for the mission in East Asia at the 5th Korea-Japan? Bishops’ meeting held September 23-25 at the Catholic Center in Tokyo. Participants from Korea were Archbishop Paul Ri with 9 bishops and Rev. John Kim Jong-su, secretary general of the CBCK and from Japan, Bishop Keiichi Sato with 8 bishops. The 5-point agreement includes that the Bishops of Korea and Japan continue the study on history for a common understanding of the past between the two countries; to develop exchanges on various levels with special attention on youth; to collaborate for the mission in East Asia. During the meeting the Bishops sent a joint solidarity message to the Church in East Timor and in Taiwan for the victims of earthquakes.
In his lecture with the theme of ?istory of Relationship Between the Church in Korea and Japan in the 16 and 17th Century? Prof. Konoi Takashi pointed out a general lack of interest in Korean martyrs.
* Holy See's Humanitarian Mission in North Korea
Joaquin Navarro-Valls. Director of the Holy See Press Office, made public on December 1st, 1999 that a humanitarian visit to the People's Republic of Korea was made by Msgrs. Celestino Migliore, under-secretary for Relations with States and Paul R. Gallagher, nunciature counselor at the Secretariat of State.
"In response to the humanitarian appeal launched by the authorities in Pyongyang in 1995, the Holy See encouraged Catholic charity organizations to lend immediate aid. The call was generously taken up by various groups, among them Caritas Internationalis, Catholic Relief Services, Misereor, and the episcopal conferences of South Korea and Italy. For its part, the Holy See, for the fourth time, sent its representatives to North Korea, thus assuring the Holy Father? constant solidarity with the North Korean people.
"The Holy See delegation, together with Kathi Zellweger, director of international cooperation of Caritas-Hong Kong, visited the district of Kujang in order to deliver hospital equipment for two hospitals in the region's main town. They then traveled to the province of Wonsan, accompanying a huge quantity of food aid destined for various centers involved in the care and education of orphan and handicapped children. In Pyongyang, the delegation had talks with Li In-gyn, vice minister for foreign affairs; Pak Jong-min, director of external affairs at the ministry of health; the directors of the Flood Damage Rehabilitation Committee and with those responsible for the Association of Catholics of North Korea.”
* Ms. Rosaline Costa Gets ? Ji Hak-sun Justice & Peace Award
The 1999 Tji Hak-sun Justice & Peace Award was given on December 8th to Ms. Rosaline Costa, human rights worker and coordinator for Hotline Bangladesh under the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of Bangladesh. Archbishop Victorinus Youn of Kwangju, president of the Board of Directors of Tulpit-hoe and Tji Hak-sun J&P Award, said, ?s. Costa has devoted herself for the human rights of the most marginalized and poorest people, children, women and tribal minorities.” The selection committee recognized her outstanding efforts and courage in extremely difficult circumstances and leading the struggle to stop child labor in the garment industry mostly girls. ?hanks to her struggles on various levels the garment company owners signed a contract with ILO and UNICEF to stop child labor and put the children into special schools run by NGOs for their primary education. This was the first time in the developing world that child labor has been stopped in any industry,” the committee said.
The Tulpit-hoe(Light upon the field) created the Tji Hak-soon Justice and Peace Foundation in memory of the late Bishop Daniel Tji who was the front runner against the injustice and dictatorship of Korea's military rulers.
* Korean Catholics Speak Out Against Nuclear Power Policy
Two thousand members of the Anti-nuclear Alliance of Korea represented by Rev. Fr. Lee Young-son of the Kwangju Archdiocese and other environmental organizations had rallied, October 10th, at the Korea Electric Power Corporation(KEPCO)? headquarter in Seoul. They protested the government's policy on electric power supply and the development of nuclear power plants in general and demanded its transparency. The rally was followed by a leak of heavy water during maintenance of the water cooling pump at the Wolsung plant on October 4th, during which 22 workers were exposed to radiation. About 45 liters of heavy water leaked but was contained within the Canadian-designed Candu-type plant. Environmental groups and residents near nuclear power plants have been staging rallies and blaming the government for lax safety management of nuclear plants. ?his accident is a 2nd grade accident according to the INES of the IAEA,” Fr. Lee pointed out. The activists demanded that the government immediately close the Canadian-designed Candu-type plant and cancel the government's plan to build nuclear power plant in Shinwolsung and in Shingori. They pointed out the danger of the government? plan to build nuclear power plant in Kyongju by saying that it is located only 7 or 8 km away from an earthquake fault.
* Korean Laity Congress Focuses on 3-Dimension of Christian Faith
On the occasion of the 14th Sunday of the Laity the Korean Lay Apostolate Council(KLAC) held 2-day Korean laity congress for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, October 21-22nd, at the Seoul Olympic Park and Urban-Farm Solidarity Festival with the theme of ?ove One Another: Fraternity.Service.Sharing.” In the message the KLAC proposed the community of fraternity, service and sharing as the model of the Kingdom of God that the Christian laity are called to live it ?ere and now,” until the end of the world. ?he world is the best place where we, the laity, can demonstrate our faith in God who is love. This is done through our words, acts and behavior,” the message said. The Congress adopted a declaration of Korean laity which was read to 3,500 participants. ?he Church in Korea is the only Church in the history of the Church that was established not by missionaries but by local people. The sweat and blood of Korean martyrs are the seeds and fertilizer of the prosperity of today? Church in Korea. We want to imitate the Korean martyrs’ spirit and build an evangelical community on Korean soil so that the spirit of fraternity, service and sharing are fully realized.” the declaration said.
Pope John Paul II and President Kim Dae-jung sent a congratulatory messages to the Congress. ?hristian witness must be rooted in the law of love and expressed in concrete solidarity with the poor,” the message of the Holy Father read.
* 12,000 Faithful Held the New Day - New Life Movement Convention
On October 9th, diocese of Masan held New Day - New Life Movement Convention at the Ch?ngwon gymnasium with 12,000 participants. On this occasion 33,618,039 rosaries were offered for North Korean and the faithful promised to lead to the Church 15,000 non-believers and 10,000 lukewarm Christians by 2001. The huge number of participants witnessed their love for neighbors by organ donations; 453 people signed for organ donations, 64 signed for body donation and 1,259 made blood donation. Bishop Michael Pak expressed heartfelt thanks for the zeal and generosity of the faithful and encouraged them to make continuous efforts so that all humanity come to believe in God in the new millennium.
* New Media Technology, a Gift of God”
Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul, said in an interview that the new media technology such as the Internet is a gift of God to humanity and must be used properly for the progress of humanity. The interview was with a video project team of the Central Committee for the Great Jubilee in Rome on November 11th at Myongdong cathedral in Seoul. ?he nuclear power becomes ? bomb” or ?nergy” depending on who is using it and what purpose it is used for,” the Archbishop stressed the good use of new scientific technology. The video project team visited Korea to prepare a TV programme to present the life of the Catholic Church in 2000 to help people fully understand the mystery and the gift of the Church in the message of Christ. The programme? three episodes include: ?unger and the Guest? ?ear and the Friend? ?he Damned, Love and Pardon.” The team visited various places including the Holy Family Catholic Adoption Agency, the Choltusan Martyrs’ Shrine and the Yongdung-po prison.
* Say Mission Society of Pusan” Founded
The Lay Mission Society of Pusan was founded on November 14th by 66 graduates from the Pusan Catechetical Institute. The new society? primary goal is to offer catehetical education to parishes with future plan to extend it to the mission for North Korea and China. ?ver 600 catechists graduated from the Pusan Catechetical Institute over the last 18 years. However, they had no opportunity to use their talent and knowledge. Many of them wanted to be missionaries, but there was no possibility. Beginning with the new millennium we want to contribute to the Church? mission work as much as we can,” Par Jae-kyun, president of the new Society,” said.
"As lay peoples role and position in the Church become more important, we are very happy to see the birth of the lay mission society,” said Most Rev. Augustine Cheong of Pusan in his congratulatory address.
News in Brief
Most Rev. Gabriel Chang, president of Caritas Coreana, on December 12th, the 16th Caritas Coreana Sunday. invited Korean Catholics to charity for the poor. ?he Advent season is a special time for Christians to witness the love of God for the poor and imitate Jesus who identified himself with them. The poor are getting poorer in our materialistic culture that excludes them. Jesus Christ came to us as one of the poor, embraced them as friends, and consoled their pains.”
On October 29, H.E. Stephan Cardinal Kim was granted the title of honorary doctor of philosophy by Seoul National University(SNU). It is first time for the SNU to grant the title to a religious leader. ?he contribution of H.E. Cardinal Kim to democratization of Korea and promotion of human dignity and social justice is immense,” the president of the SNU said.
Representatives of Catholic Justice and Peace work from ten Asian countries including South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong sent a petition letter to President Kim Dae-jung and asked to hear the voice of people and abolish National Security Law. ?e support demands of the Korean Priests’ Association for Justice and the 33 Church-based human rights groups including eight diocesan J&P committees in Korea for abolition of the NSL for it violates the freedom of expression and conscience enshrined in the Constitution of Korea.
"Catholic organ donors exceeded ten thousand and Rev. Lee Kang-gon of Suwon diocese is the 10,000th organ donor,” One Heart - One Body Movement official said. The organ donation movement was launched 10 years ago following the 44th Seoul World Eucharistic Congress in 1989. A great number of clergy and religious including four bishops are among them.
On November 25th, Wellspring of Peace, the Catholic Counseling Center for Sexually Abused People and the Catholic Women? Hot Line joined the national campaign against sexual and family violence led by the Association of Women? Organizations of Korea. ?ll victims of sexual violation have a right to get necessary support regardless age, sex, job, academic degree, economic capacity, political position, physical and mental capacity,” they said.
The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints
St. Chong Ha-sang Paul (1795-1839)
Chong Ha-sang Paul was born in 1795 in Mahyon, Yanggun-gun in Kyonggi Province, near Seoul. He came from a traditional noble family belonging to Namin. His father, Chong Yak-jong Augustine, was martyred on April 8th, 1801, and his mother, Yu So-sa Cecilia, was martyred on November 23rd, 1839. His sister, Chong Chong-hye Elizabeth, was martyred in the same year. His elder brother, Chong Ch?l-sang Charles, was martyred in 1801 with his father. This was a family of martyrs. Chong Yak-yong, one of the greatest scholars of Korea who is also known by the pen name ?a-san? and Chong Yak-jon are his uncles.
After his father, who had written a catechism, ?mportant of Doctrines of Catholicism? was martyred in 1801, the whole family suffered much. Paul was just seven years old at that time. All their properties were confiscated, and the family wandered about in extreme poverty. But due to his devout mother, Yu So-sa Cecilia, Paul kept his faith.
At the age of 20, he left his mother and sister at home and went to Seoul. He tried to rebuild the Catholic Church which was struggling without a priest. He decided to try to bring missionaries into the country to revitalize the Church.
Paul went to Cho Tong-som Justin, a great scholar, who had gone to Hamgyong Province for Chinese studies. Although Paul was a man of the nobility, he humbled himself to become the servant of an interpreter, who used to frequent Beijing.
In 1816, he went to Beijing and asked the bishop of Beijing to send missionaries to Korea. In Beijing, he was baptized and received the Holy Communion.
On his visit to Beijing in 1817, Paul obtained a promise from the bishop of Beijing to send a missionary to Korea. But the missionary died before he could enter Korea. In the following year Paul sought assistance for his efforts from the newly baptized Yu Chin-gil, Cho Shin-ch?l and also Chong Yak-yong, an uncle who was in exile in Kang-jin. So, his efforts to bring missionaries into Korea continued.
Paul and his group sent a letter to the Pope in Rome appealing to him to send missionaries to Korea. The letter written in 1825, following Kwon John? letter of 1811, moved Rome toward a decision. In 1792 Bishop de Gouvea of Beijing had first reported to Pope Pius VI the fact of the existence of the Church in Korea. The Holy See was astounded to learn that the Church had appeared there, not through the efforts of foreign missionaries but through the efforts of its own scholars.
Paul and his companions kept writing to the bishop of Beijing for missionaries. Their unceasing voices were finally heard in Rome. In September 1827, Cardinal Capellari of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith wrote to Father Langlois, rector of the Paris Foreign Missions Society seminary, asking whether he could speedily commit the society to mission in Korea.
In December, 1830, Cardinal Capellari, who had initiated the Paris Foreign Missions Society? move to Korea, became the new Pope, Gregory XVI. On September 9th, 1831, he issued two decrees: One decree established Korea as a vicariate separate from Beijing and the second appointed Bishop Bruguiere as the first bishop of Korea. At the same time the Paris Foreign Missions Society was asked to be in charge of the Church in Korea.
It was over forty years since native scholars had established the Church and thirty-three years since the Chinese priest, Father Chu Mun-mo, had entered Korea. Father Chu had secretly ministered to the Catholics for five years until he was captured and martyred. Since then the Church in Korea had been a sheepfold without a shepherd, yearning for priests to be sent to them.
Paul traveled to Beijing nine times and three times to the Korean-Manchurian border. Yu Chin-gil Augustine went to Beijing many times. The revitalization of the Church in Korea was due greatly to their unselfish dedicated efforts. Whenever missionaries came into Korea, Paul met them at the border in Uiju. He introduced Bishop Laurent Imbert into Korea, had him stay in his home and served him during his ministry.
Bishop Imbert highly esteemed Paul? faithfulness, and decided to make him a priest. He taught him Latin and theology. However, a new persecution erupted, and the bishop had to escape to Suwon.
While Paul was waiting for martyrdom, he wrote Sangje-sangso (A Letter to the Prime Minister) to be submitted to government officials in case of his arrest because of his defense of the Catholic faith. This is the first book of apologetics in Korea. Even the enemies of the Church were impressed by its eloquent contents.
Paul was finally arrested in 1839 with his mother and sister. He and Yu Chin-gil were considered the leaders of the Church who introduced foreign missionaries into Korea. Therefore the tortures they received were far more severe than others. Paul endured all those severe tortures, and finally was beheaded outside the Small West Gate of Seoul on September 22nd. 1839, at the age of 45.
Chong Ha-sang Paul is considered a leading figure in the Church. He rehabilitated the Church, which was in danger of annihilation because of severe persecutions, and made the establishment of the Vicariate Apostolic of Korea possible.